Hector Macdonald The Mind Game

ISBN 13: 9780141013435

The Mind Game

 
9780141013435: The Mind Game

Oxford professor James Fieldhead needs a willing subject to test a new device that may offer the key to understanding human emotions. Ben Ashurst agrees to participate in the study, seduced in equal measure by his new girlfriend and by the site for the experiment — a luxury resort on a pristine beach in Kenya. Hector Macdonald’s debut novel is a masterfully crafted labyrinth of cunning, intriguing characters and startling plot twists.

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Review:

When you think of game theory, do you think of chalk-dusty economists droning endlessly about the permutations of optimal outcomes and short-term payoffs? Perhaps not. But even if you do, Hector MacDonald's first novel will make this esoteric field exotic, dangerous, and downright sexy.

Ben Ashurst is a student at Oxford. He leads a fairly placid life, befriending shy girls, playing "keep up with the Joneses" with his crowd of wealthy (and nasty) friends, and trying to impress his tutor, the brilliant and controversial behavioral scientist James Fieldhead. A single day, however, is enough to turn his calm existence upside down. When he meets the beautiful and enigmatic Cara, and when Fieldhead requests Ben's participation in a ground-breaking research experiment, Ben will find himself thrust into a life where every measure of normality is rent asunder.

Fieldhead, working in conjunction with a nameless but powerful corporation, has developed a way to measure emotions by tracking the brain's physiological responses to stimuli. At his request, Ben submits to having a tiny sensor attached to his skull, and, filled with a guinea pig's pride, is sent off to Kenya with Cara for three weeks of recreation and stimulation. But vacation turns to terror when a case of mistaken identity lands Ben in a Kenyan jail, where the stimulation is anything but positive. Struggling to keep his mental balance, Ben begins wondering whether someone is manipulating the experiment and to what purpose. His search for answers will lead him into the highest corporate boardrooms and into the depths of treachery and betrayal.

The novel fairly quivers with energy: reading it is like holding a manic Chihuahua. MacDonald has places to go and things to do and plots to uncover and emotions to stir. And in fact his narrative is generally capable of sustaining this energy. If, on occasion, his grand drama seems to be a tempest in a teapot, well, that's a small (and temporary) price to pay for a highly entertaining read. --Kelly Flynn

From the Inside Flap:

Cutting-edge science and the logic of game theory combine to form an utterly original, spellbinding novel of suspense.

"First rule of game theory: do whatever produces the optimal final outcome for you."
"I didn't know we were playing a game."
"But of course we are. . . ."

An expert in animal behavior with a brilliant analytical mind, charismatic Oxford professor James Fieldhead needs a willing subject to test a groundbreaking device that may offer the key to understanding human emotions. Encouraged by Cara, his seductive new girlfriend, Ben Ashurst agrees to participate in the study, honored to be part of the first crucial stage of life-changing research. With a luxury resort on a pristine beach in Kenya as the site of the experiment, and Cara along for the ride, it seems a perfect way to spend the winter holiday. Yet beneath the surface of a sunny paradise awaits something cold and ruthless.

As the experiment veers from abstract theory into terrifying reality, Ben finds there is no one he can confide in. Impetuous Cara is intimate one night, then distant the next, forcing Ben to wonder where her true allegiances lie.

Snared in a masterfully crafted labyrinth of cunning, in which each step can lead closer to a solution or deeper into chaos, Ben scrambles to learn why he was chosen for this project. Fieldhead's obsession with game theory suggests a possible course of action. But every time Ben thinks he has discovered the winning move, he finds another level of deception, another betrayal of his trust.

Moving from the sheltered colleges of Oxford to the magnificent landscape of Kenya, The Mind Game is full of intriguing characters and stunning plot twists. Just when you think you have mastered The Mind Game, you might just be mistaken . . . .

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